22 – Salt

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Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.

I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Time on the beach stimulates the senses – hearing the waves washing ashore and the wind whistling by ears – the sun kissing the skin with warmth to awaken tanning agents and freckles – feeling the water on the ankles and sand’s grit on the soles and between the toes – the wind moving through the air and refreshing the face – slowly inhaling and exhaling the fresh air to restore the soul – and smelling the unique scent of sea air. Yes – the beach experience is an elixir of sweet dreams courtesy of the sea’s spirit.

The salty air is due to the spritzing nature of sea spray – a spray with salt that clings to the skin – a salt that we can even taste. The salty spray makes windows impossible to keep clean while also collecting on all outer surfaces; such as cars, furniture, and buildings – a salty spray that eats away many materials in a corrosive manner.

Photo by Darwis Alwan on Pexels.com

Salt – the white grains we associate with table salt, yet we also link to terms as saline, brine, brackish, sea salt, and rock salt. Salt is crusty, no wonder “salty dog” refers to an experienced sailor – but I wonder how many beach communities have a bar or eatery carrying that name.

Salt is one of the sensations of taste our tongue can distinguish. We can detect when food is too salty or could use a bit more – but taste is also a matter of personal preference. We also notice salt’s presence in tears from a good cry.

Salt – the white crystalline substance that we easily taste in seawater. Surprising to some, the ocean is only 3.5 percent salt – a salt coming from dissolving rocks from far-away inland creeks, streams, and rivers that eventually deposit into the ocean. I doubt that many people think of the ocean as a dumping ground for our planet’s terrestrial salt.

To a chemist, there are many salts – and not all are white. Salt is a compound formed when the atoms of a metal and nonmetal chemically combine as a result of a chemical reaction involving an acid and a base. The salt formed depends on the identity of the participating acid and base. Oddly enough, this reaction also produces water.

I think about salt having a long history with humanity. Besides flavoring, salt is a preservative for cured meats and salty cod. Traded as a precious commodity by ancient civilizations, people fought wars over salt. Salt has been involved in various rituals, ceremonies, and folklore through the ages – including keeping away evil spirits. Whereas spilling salt is bad luck, tossing salt over one’s shoulder is for avoiding bad luck.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Today we commonly associate salts with foods as potato chips, pretzels, french fries, pizza, and countless prepared foods packaged in a box or a can. Many people judge a purchase based on the label’s salt (sodium) content.

Sodium, a component in table salt, is essential to living things. Sodium for maintaining water balance in our body – sodium for stabilizing blood pressure – sodium for proper functioning muscles and nerves – sodium as a necessary electrolyte – but we don’t need it in overwhelming quantities.

Salt – a mineral that dissolves in water, then left behind for harvest after water evaporates from shallow pools and ponds, a practice done since ancient times. Certain parts of the world are famous for a salt with distinguishing character. We can also mine from the ground. After all, “Back to the salt mines” is a phrase we associate with hard labor.

Salt is strong and pungent. No wonder we say “a little goes a long way”, “just a pinch”, or “taking it with a grain of salt.”

We associate salt with pain, so we “rub salt in a womb” to accentuate and aggravate the situation. But referring to someone as “salt of the earth” is a praise of character, honesty, reliability, and morality.

Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

Smelling salts, Epsom salt, bath salts, road salt, rock salt, and more are other aspects of salt – but not the same salt that is on our dinner table. The same is true for soaps with salt for enhancing cleansing. Yet, the majority of the salt produced is not for eating or cleaning, but for manufacturing processes.

I think about how both salt and sugar are common in our lives – two substances appearing to be similar, yet are so different in taste, use, and symbolism.

I think about how salt and sand are two components here at the beach – one dissolving in water and the other not – yet a mixture of water, sand, and salt can be separated – even if the salt is dissolved in the water.

Salt – an important mineral for our global community, yet a distinguishing characteristic for everyone near the sea. Salt is so important, I’m confident my thoughts are meager. Nonetheless, salt has been an interesting topic to ponder as I walk. After all, I like walking on the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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98 thoughts on “22 – Salt”

  1. This post is full of information, Frank! You talk about salt being involved in a chemical reaction that produces water, and it reminded me of how salt draws moisture from certain foods when cooking. For example, it draws moisture from the rind on a pork roast to make the crackling crispy while baking. When I made Green Mango Chutney last year, I left the cut raw mangoes covered in salt to draw out the moisture, before making the chutney. Perhaps this is connected to the chemical reaction you speak of?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne,
      Perfect addition, so let me explain. Toss the vegetables into a pan to saute, then sprinkle with salt. Yes, for flavor – but also to draw some water out of the vegetables. Some for cured meats, such as my beloved Proscuitto. Oh, how I love the stuff! 🙂 It’s not cooked, but the salt draws the water out of the meat. However, this isn’t a chemical reaction, but actually the diffusion of water known as osmosis. Ah ha … the science teacher in me comes out again. 😉 Meanwhile, salt is much more than something in the ocean or in a container in our kitchen.

      Like

  2. No, I never would have guessed that the ocean is comprised of only 3.5 percent salt. Which is even more interesting when you consider that the average deep dish from Giordano’s has just about as much.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Cincy

        Seriously, I felt as if I had eaten the 3.5 of the ocean’s saltwater the first time I had a Giordano’s pie in Chicago. Of course, I made the mistake of having the meat lovers special. After that I switched to cheese or spinach. Much better idea.

        I had never heard of this Ava Max. Very nice Frank! She has a certain Adelle vibe to her.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You made a complete tour about salt, Frank.
    In the past people before fridges and freezers put big bits of pork in a very large jar . They add a lot of salt and above a heavy stone . This was the way to kep the meet sane . This large jar was called saloir.
    In friendship
    Michel

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a couple of interesting memories involving salt…..one was a beach memory when I lived in Florida years ago – if I had a scratch on my leg (from a cat!) walking through the surf was an initial sting then a FASTER heal. The other is when I was a child living in Germany my family took a little mini-train tour through a salt mine. One of my favorite amazing memories. It is easy to overuse salt in food BUT I find it fabulous what amplification of flavor salt provides in food. Salt…..it truly is “salt of the earth”. Great post and music.

    Pam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pam,
      Thanks for sharing two fabulous memories. I had no clue about the healing – and have never been in a salt mine, which I imagine would be a fabulous tour. In terms of using it with food, I’m on the light side. I cautiously cook with it and seldom pick up a salt shaker. I don’t even think we have one on our table. So, I definitely notice when someone’s preparation is too salty. Hooray – glad you enjoyed the song. This one was a bit different from my normal offering, so you just caused a smile. When I first heard the song, I knew I had to use it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never cook with salt either……I think that’s a personal choice for the EATER not the CHEF. LOL I was very young at the time of the salt mine tour – I have an old black/white photo of me, my Dad and big sister on the little “sit on” train-like vehicle heading into the mine. My brother was too young to go so Mom stayed with him and took the photo. I think I used it as a Teaser once! HAHA The song isn’t my usual thing either but she really knocked my socks off with her delivery…… Happy Tuesday!

        Pam

        Liked by 1 person

        1. When Henry Ford hired someone, he took him to a restaurant for a meal. Those who salted the food without first tasting it were full of preconceived ideas, and not adaptable thinkers. He hired those who investigated and made appropriate choices. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. You can tenderize a steak by coating it with salt for about an hour before cooking, which also allows the meat to come to room temperature which is good. Then wash the salt off, pat dry, and season as usual. Our water in Arizona is hard, so salt is used as a water softener, which means we buy water as my husband has to watch his salt intake because of high blood pressure. When my s-i-l lived in Provence, we visited the Camargue where we saw piles of sea salt being dried to sell.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gargling with salt water to soothe a sore throat… I love the smell of salt in the air as we get closer to the beach. And the sticky salty feeling on my skin after a morning by the waves. Interestingly, I’ve heard the expression “old salt” to describe an old sailor with a lifetime of sea stories to share, but have never heard of a “salty dog” before. I wonder if it’s a regional thing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barbara,
      Interesting thought about Old Salt and Salty Dog. I have no clue – but if I had to guess, I’m with you about it being regional. I remember the gargling with salt water days for a sore throat. Haven’t heard that one in a long time. No question in my mind that salt is one of the scents that give marine air its unique smell. I love it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. UsedLife,
      Welcome first-time beach walker – and thank you for your poem! All my walks follow a similar format as this one, but the topic is different – this one being walk #22. Hope you take a look at other ones with hopes you return. In what part of the world are you located?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Where we lived on the Coast was the second most corrosive place on the planet. A combination of wind and direct access to the gulf produced a “blow torch” effect of salt spray. We used to lose lamps off the walls outside. We would hear a crash and go out to see one of the outside lamps lying on the deck. Windows had to be washed weekly; otherwise, it was like looking through a spun sugar coating. The house had to be washed down with fresh water once a month. There was no way a car could be left outside. Any metal that was not stainless steel was fully compromised within a year. We loved the salt, Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John,
      I know a bit of what you are saying – but dealing with it year-round is another matter. Definitely one of the major negatives of living near the water. Now I’m wondering – how far inland does that effect carry? While in a store last year near the beach, a worker told me that the effect on his car from one day at work is very noticeable. Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Several years ago, I read Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky, which gave me a new respect for this ancient substance. Here is one of my favourite quotes from the books: “Salt is so common, so easy to obtain, and so inexpensive that we have forgotten that from the beginning of civilization until about 100 years ago, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities in human history.”

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you, Frank!
    Always cool to go on a reflecting beach walk with you, at any time of the day.
    As this is the 22nd beach walk, you have somewhat earned the title of a salty dog.
    Of curse (mis-spelled on porpoise) we don’t have to go to the sea shore to have salt corrode our car.
    The roads are insanely heavily salted here in the winter. I suppose it’s for the Ah-traction.
    Not my fault! Dale put me in a silly mood. Still chuckling!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Resa,
      Oh that Dale is the one who got you all silly. Then again, she’s a good one to blame! …. As for the salty roads of winter, I know the feeling. Because the south does not deal with snow and/or ice very often, they put sand on the road! Growing up, I recall my hometown (in Ohio) using cinders.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahh, interesting.
        Winnipeg (growing up) was a mix of sand and salt. Here, it’s salt! Salt, salt and more salt.
        I’m sure the salt guy and the car dealer guy are related!

        Like

  10. the ocean as a dumping ground for our planet’s terrestrial salt.
    salt and sand are two components here at the beach – one dissolving in water and the other not – yet a mixture of water, sand, and salt can be separated

    I loved these observations above, I had never thought of them. Your descriptions of the experience of the salty warmth are so beautiful, to begin with.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Salty dog = gin and grapefruit juice with a salted rim on the glass.

    Magnesium chloride = salt on our roads in the winter.

    Avery Island (Tabasco sauce) = salt dome.

    We stayed at the Saltraker Inn on Grand Turk where the overseer once lived. They harvested sea salt in colonial days, undoubtedly with slave labor.

    Chemistry lab 2005. Lab instructor takes pure sodium out of an oil bath and, under a hood, deposits in water. Serious explosion occurs!

    Rock salt= homemade ice cream. I used to suck on chunks like it was hard candy. Now I rarely add salt to my food.

    Just a few salty memories to add to your wonderful rundown on this essential mineral compound.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisa,
      Glad I was about to transport you back to the beach. The beach walks here are all about sounds, photos, and words to stimulate thoughts and relax the soul. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the song. I put a lot of thought into selecting the closing song, so comments about them make me smile. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Interesting read, never thought about salt to this degree. I think salary is derived from salt which made up part of a Roman soldier’s paycheque. When I think of salt, I immediately think of sailing and the ocean. The background on this post is amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Later today, I’ll be hoping our precipitation stays in the form of snow. I can move that and not bother spreading salt like I have to when the snow starts or changes to freezing rain.

    Like

  14. It’s amazing how important salt is to our bodies and to our planet’s system, and how for both, there has to be the right balance. I, too, was amazed that the percentage of salt in the ocean is so low, though of course, it must vary at various shorelines. Have you ever read Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky? I read it years ago. Something you might enjoy. He’s written other books, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love salty foods, and so far, fortunately don’t have high blood pressure. LOL! I always enjoy your focused science information, Frank. I noted when we visited Florida a few years ago that the Atlantic Ocean, at least off the coast of Florida, was a lot “saltier” than our Southern California Pacific. It was noticeable. I can’t discuss it one whit beyond just what I observed, but I found it interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That’s an interesting subject. We’re told salt is bad for us, but as you say, only in excess. I add Celtic Sea Salt to my drinking water, just a grain or too. But without it my diet is salt free. And of course, sea salt contains trace minerals, minerals our diets are lacking otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Here in Arizona my skin gets so dried out that I use a salt rub to moisturize. It works. If you want to spend a lot of money on a spa treatment, they treat your to a salt rub. 🙂 I love the singer, Frank. I’ve never heard of her, but I guess she’s all out of tears. I wish I could have given her some of mine over the years, but mine are all dried up, too. Life is good and salty! 🙂 Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marsha,
      Isn’t it odd that salt pulls moisture out, yet salt rubs moisturize your Arizona-dried skin. That’s quite a conundrum. Glad you enjoyed Ava. Salt is the only song I know from her. I heard this version on SiriusXM radio in my car. Loved it the first time I heard it – and new I wanted to use it for this walk.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Amazing post, Frank. In Sweden we have big problems with icy roads wintertime. Many parts of the cities are salted to remove this, resulting in damaged cars and hurting animal paws. It also ends up in the water and kills plants. My grandmother used salting to preserve food.

    Like

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